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IMAGES (1910-1915) % 

By RICHARD ALDINGTON 




8d. net 



THE POETRY BOOKSHOP 
35 DEVONSHIRE STREET 
THEOBALDS ROAD, W.C. 



Non cantmus surdts. 



A number of these poems have already 
appeared: some in " Des Imagistes" (The 
Poetry Bookshop ; New York, Boni) ; some 
in " Some Imagist Poets " (Constable & Co. ; 
Boston & New York, Houghton Mifflin Co.) ; 
others in " The Egoist," and one in " Poetry 
and Drama." Others have appeared in 
American periodicals : " Poetry " (Chicago), 
" The Little Review " (Chicago), " The Poetry 
Journal " (Boston), and " Greenwich Village" 
(New York). Permission to reprint has in 
each case been granted by the publishers and 
editors concerned, to whom my thanks are 
due. 



Part I. 



PR 600 1 



TO A GREEK MARBLE 



White grave goddess, 
Pity my sadness, 

silence of Paros. 

1 am not of these about thy feet. 
These garments and decorum ; 

I am thy brother, 

Thy lover of aforetime crying to thee, 

And thou hearest me not. 

I have whispered thee in thy solitudes 

Of our loves in Phrygia, 

The far ecstasy of burning noons 

When the fragile pipes 

Ceased in the cypress shade. 

And the brown fingers of the shepherd 

Moved over slim shoulders ; 

And only the cicada sang. 

I have told thee of the hills 

And the lisp of reeds 

And the sun upon thy breasts, 

And thou hearest me not. 

Thou hearest me not. 



; " 076 



THE RIVER 



I. 



I drifted along the river 
Until I moored my boat 
By these crossed trunks. 

Here the mist moves 

Over fragile leaves and rushes, 

Colourless waters and brown fading hills. 

She has come from beneath the trees, 
Moving within the mist, 
A floating leaf. 



II. 

O blue flower of the evening, 
You have touched my face 
With your leaves of silver. 
Love me, for I must depart. 



IN AN OLD GARDEN 



I have sat here happy in the gardens, 

Watching the still pool and the reeds 

And the dark clouds 

Which the wind of the upper air 

Tore like the green leafy boughs 

Of the divers-hued trees of late summer ; 

But though I greatly delight 

In these and the water lilies, 

That which sets me nighest to weeping 

Is the rose and white colour of the smooth flag-stones. 

And the pale yellow grasses 

Among them. 



BEAUTY THOU HAST HURT ME OVERMUCH 



The light is a wound to me. 

The soft notes 

Feed upon the wounds. 

Where wert thou born 
O thou woe 

That consumest my life ? 
Whither comest thou ? 

Toothed wind of the seas, 
No man knows thy beginning. 
As a bird with strong claws 
Thou woundest me, 
O beautiful sorrow. 



ARGYRIA 



Oyou, 

O you most fair, 

Swayer of reeds, whisperer 

Among the flowering rushes. 

You have hidden your hands 

Beneath the poplar leaves. 

You have given them to the white waters. 

Swallow-fleet, 

Sea-child cold from waves, 

Slight reed that sang so blithely in the wind. 

White cloud the white sun kissed into the air ; 

Pan mourns for you. 

White limbs, white song. 
Pan mourns for you. 



IN THE VIA SESTINA 



O daughter of Isis, 

Thou standest beside the wet highway 

Of this decayed Rome, 

A manifest harlot. 

Straight and slim art thou 
As a marble phallus ; 
Thy face is the face of Isis 
Carven 

As she is carven in basalt. 

And my heart stops with awe 
At the presence of the gods, 

There beside thee on the stall of images 
Is the head of Osiris 
Thy lord. 



CHORICOS 



The ancient songs 

Pass deathward mournfully. 

Cold lips that sing no more, and withered wreaths. 

Regretful eyes, and drooping breasts and wings — 

Symbols of ancient songs 

Mournfully passing 

Down to the great white surges. 

Watched of none 

Save the frail sea-birds 

And the lithe pale girls. 

Daughters of Okeanus. 

And the songs pass 

From the green land 

Which lies upon the waves as a leaf 

On the flowers of hyacinth ; 

And they pass from the waters, 

The manifold winds and the dim moon. 

And they come, 

Silently winging through soft Kimmerian dusk. 

To the quiet level lands 

That she keeps for us all. 

That she wrought for us all for sleep 

In the silver days of the earth's dawning — 

Proserpina, daughter of Zeus. 



lO 



And we turn from the Kyprian's breasts, 

And we turn from thee, 

Phoibos Apollon, 

And we turn from the music of old 

And the hills that we loved and the meads. 

And we turn from the fiery day, 

And the lips that were over sweet ; 

For silently 

Brushing the fields with red-shod feet. 

With purple robe 

Searing the flowers as with a sudden flame. 

Death, 

Thou hast come upon us. 

And of all the ancient songs 

Passing to the swallow blue halls 

By the dark streams of Persephone, 

This only remains : 

That we turn to thee. 

Death, 

That we turn to thee, singing 

One last song. 

O Death, 

Thou art an healing wind 
That blowest over white flowers 
A-tremble with dew ; 



ir 



Thou art a wind flowing 

Over dark leagues of lonely sea ; 

Thou art the dusk and the fragrance ; 

Thou art the lips of love mournfully smiling ; 

Thou art the pale peace of one 

Satiate with old desires ; 

Thou art the silence of beauty, 

And we look no more for the morning, 

We yearn no more for the sun. 

Since with thy white hands, 

Death, 

Thou crownest us with the pallid chaplets, 

The slim colourless poppies 

Which in thy garden alone 

Softly thou gatherest. 

And silently. 

And with slow feet approaching. 
And with bowed head and unlit eyes, 
We kneel before thee : 
And thou, leaning towards us, 
Caressingly layest upon us 
Flowers from thy thin cold hands. 
And, smiling as a chaste woman 
Knowing love in her heart. 
Thou seelest our eyes 
And the illimitable quietude 
Comes gently upon us. 



12 

IMAGES 

I. 

Like a gondola of green scented fruits 
Drifting along the dark canals at Venice, 
You, O exquisite one. 
Have entered my desolate city. 

II. 

The blue smoke leaps 
Like swirling clouds of birds vanishing. 
So my love leaps forth towards you 
Vanishes and is renewed. 

III. 

A rose-yellow moon in a pale sky 
When the sunset is faint vermilion 
On the mist among the tree-boughs 
Are you to me. 

IV. 

As a young beech-tree on the edge of a forest 

Stands still in the evening, 

Then shudders through all its leaves in the light air 

And seems to fear the stars — 

So are you still and so tremble. 

V. 

The red deer are high on the mountain, 
They are beyond the last pine-trees. 
And my desires have run with them. 



13 



VI. 



The flower which the wind has shaken 
Is soon filled again with rain ; 
So does my heart fill slowly with tears 
Until you return. 



A GIRL 

You were that clear Sicilian fluting 
That pains our thought even now. 
You were the notes 
Of cold fantastic grief 
Some few found beautiful. 



OCTOBER 

The beech-leaves are silver 
For lack of the tree^s blood. 

At your kiss my lips 

Become like the autumn beech-leaves. 



NEW LOVE 

She has new leaves 
After her dead flowers, 
Like the little almond tree 
Which the frost hurt. 



14 



THE FAUN SEES SNOW FOR THE FIRST TIME 



Zeus, 

Brazen-thunder-hurler, 

Cloud-whirler, son-of-Kronos, 

Send vengeance on these Oreads 

Who strew 

White frozen flecks of mist and cloud 

Over the brown trees and the tufted grass 

Of the meadows, where the stream 

Runs black through shining banks 

Of bluish white. 

Zeus, 

Are the halls of heaven broken up 
That you flake down upon me 
Feather-strips of marble ? 

Dis and Styx ! 

When I stamp my hoof 

The frozen-cloud-specks jam into the cleft 

Sothat I reel upon two slippery, points . . 

Fool, to stand here cursing 
When I might be running ! 



IS 



LEMURES 



In Nineveh 
And beyond Nineveh 
In the dusk 
They were afraid. 

In Thebes of Egypt 

In the duslc 

They chanted of them to the dead. 

In my Lesbos and Achaia 
Where the God dwelt 
We knew them. 

Now men say *' They are not " : 

But in the dusk 

Ere the white sun comes — 

A gay child that bears a white candle- 

I am afraid of their rustling, 

Of their terrible silence, 

The menace of their secrecy. 



i6 



AMALFI 



We will come down to you, 

O very deep sea, 

And drift upon your pale green waves 

Like scattered petals. 

We will come down to you from the hills, 

From the scented lemon groves, 

From the hot sun. 

We will come down, 

O Thalassa, 

And drift upon 

Your pale green waves 

Like petals. 



17 



AT MITYLENE 



O Artemis, 

Will you not leave the dark fastness 

And set your steel- white foot upon the foam, 

And come across the rustling sand 

Setting it adrift with the wind of your raiment ? 

For these women have laid out a purple cloth. 
And they have builded you an altar 
Of white shells for the honey. 

O Artemis, 

Girdle the gold about you, 

Set the silver upon your hair 

And remember us — 

We, who have grown weary even of music. 

We who would scream behind the wild dogs of Scythia. 



i8 



HERMES, LEADER OF THE DEAD 



We, who loved thy lyre, 

Yet knew the end of all songs 

A lamentation and a mourning ; 

We, who loved Eos — 

That maiden whiter than Narcissus — 

And loved the midday heat, the sea- winds 

Rustling across the vineyards ; 

Now in the twilight 

Hold forth trembling hands 

To thee, Hermes, 

Leader of the Dead. 

Bear us upon thy winged flight 

Down the dark blue ways unto Orcus ; 

Make us stabile 

With thy imperishable hands. 

For our feet stumble, and age 

Loosens our knees ; 

Our wearied eyes 

Yearn for the heavy bowed gold blossoms 

Beneath the very grey sky 

Of Persephone. 



19 



Part II. 



SUMMER 



A butterfly, 

Black and scarlet, 

Spotted with white, 

Fans its wings 

Over a privet flower . . . 

A thousand crimson foxgloves, 
Tall bloody pikes. 

Stand motionless in a gravel quarry ; 
The wind runs over them. 

A rose film over a pale sky 
Fantastically cut by dark chimneys ; 
Candles winking in the windows 
Across an old city garden. 



20 



AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM 



I turn the page and read : 

' ' I dream of silent verses where the rhyme 

Glides noiseless as an oar." 

The heavy musty air, the black desks, 

The bent heads and the rustling noises 

In the great dome 

Vanish . . . 

And 

The sun hangs in the cobalt-blue sky, 

The boat drifts over the lake shallows, 

The fishes skim like umber shades through the undulating 

weeds, 
The oleanders drop their rosy petals on the lawns, 
And the swallows dive and swirl and whistle 
About the cleft battlements of Can Grande's castle . . . 



21 



JUNE RAIN 



Hot, a griffin's mouth of flame, 

The sun rasped with his golden tongue 

The city's streets, till men and walls shrivelled ; 

The dusty air stagnated. 

At the third noon 

A wind rippled, 

A sea silently breaking ; 

A thin veil of rain-drops 

Hid the sun and the hard blue. 

A grey garment of rain. 
Cold as hoar-frost in April 
Enwrapped us. 



22 



IN THE TUBE 

The electric car jerks ; 

I stumble on the slats of the floor, 

Fall into a leather seat 

And look up. 

A row of advertisements, 

A row of windows, 

Set in brown woodwork pitted with brass nails, 

A row of hard faces, 

Immobile, 

In the swaying train. 

Rush across the flickering background of fluted dingy 

tunnel ; 
A row of eyes» 
Eyes of greed, of pitiful blankness, of plethoric 

complacency. 
Immobile, 

Gaze, stare at one point. 
At my eyes. 

Antagonism, 

Disgust, 

Immediate antipathy. 

Cut my brain, as a sharp dry reed 

Cuts a finger. 

I surprise the same thought 
In the brasslike eyes : 

" What right have you to live ?** 



23 



CINEMA EXIT 



After the click and whirr 

Of the glimmering pictures, 

The dry feeling in the eyes 

As the sight follows the electric flickerings, 

The banal sentimentality of the films, 

The hushed concentration of the people, 

The tinkling piano — 

Suddenly 

A vast avalanch of greenish yellow light 

Pours over the threshold ; 

White globes darting vertical rays 

Spot the sombre buildings ; 

The violent gloom of the night 

Battles with the radiance ; 

Swift figures, legs, skirts, white cheeks, hats 

Flicker in oblique rays of dark and light. 

Millions of human vermin 

Swarm sweating 

Along the night-arched cavernous roads. 

(Happily rapid chemical processes 
Will disintegrate them all.) 



24 



INTERLUDE 



Blow your tin squeals 
On your reedy whistle. 

Here they come 

dancing, 
White girls, 

lithe girls, 
In linked dance 
From Attica. 

Gay girls dancing 

in the frozen street. 
Hair streaming, and white raiment 
Flying, 

Red lips that first were 
Red in Ephesus. 

Gone! 

You ? Red-nose, piping by the Red-Lion, 

You! 

Did you bring them ! 

Here, take my pennies, 
Mon semblable, mon here. 



25 



EVENING 



The chimneys, rank on rank, 

Cut the clear sky ; 

The moon, 

With a rag of gauze about her loins 

Poses among them, an awkward Venus- 

And here am I looking wantonly at her 
Over the kitchen sink. 



HAMPSTEAD HEATH 
(Easter Monday, 1915.) 



Dark clouds, torn into gaps of livid sky. 

Pierced through 

By a swift searchlight, long and white like a dagger. 

The black murmuring crowd flows, eddies, stops, flows on 

Between the lights 

And the banks of noisy booths. 



26 



ST. MARY'S, KENSINGTON 



The orange plane-leaves 

Rest gently on the cracked grey slabs 

In the city churchyard. 

O pitiful dead, 

There is not one of those who pass by 

To remember you. 

But the trees do not forget ; 
Their severed tresses 
Are laid sadly above you. 



AT NIGHTS 



At nights I sit here, 

Shading my eyes, shutting them if you glance up, 

Pretending to doze, 

And watching you, 

Thinking. 



27 



I think of when I first saw the beauty of things — 

God knows I was poor enough and sad enough 

And humiliated enough — 

But not all the slights and the poorness and the worry 

Could hide away the green of the poplar leaves, 

The ripple and light of the little stream, 

The pattern of the ducks' feathers, 

The dawns I saw in the winter 

When I went shooting, 

The summer walks and the winter walks. 

The hot days with the cows coming down to the water, 

The flowers. 

Buttercups and meadowsweet and hog's parsley, 

And the larks singing in the morning, and the thrushes 

Trilling at dusk when I went out into the fields 

Muttering poetry. 

I looked at the world as God did 
When first He made it. 
I saw that it was good. 

And now at nights, 

Now that everything has gone right somehow, 

And I have friends and books 

And no more bitterness, 

I sit here, shading my eyes. 

Peeping at you, watching you, 

Thinking. 



28 



NIGHT PIECE 



I lie awake; and listen. 

The water drips musically in the large zinc tank ; the 
little watch beside me ticks away the seconds of my life ; 
and at long intervals the bell of St. Mary Abbot's growls 
out huskily the quarters : ding, ding, dang, dong ! 

Silence. The water drips slower and more musically ; the 
watch ticks more gently ; the window curtain rustles a 
little in the wind and a faint confused glow of moonlight 
slips into the room. 

Silence. I rise and draw the curtain. The white misty 
moonlight chequers the houses into blocks and lines and 
angles of watery silverish white and intense black 
shadows. There is no movement, no sound in the city. 

No sound ? A train whistle blows very faint and shrill and 
clear and far away — clearer than bugles and as shrill as 
a wandering night bird. A train is running out from 
Marylebone or Victoria . . . 

Very faint and shrill and far away the whistle sounds — 
more like a wild bird than ever. And my unsatisfied 
desires and empty wishes and vague yearnings are 
suddenly set aching by the thin tremulous whistle. 



29 



DAWN 



It is night ; and silent. 

The mist is still beside the frozen dyke ; it lies on the stiff 
grass, about the poplar trunks. The last star goes out. 
The gulls are coming up from the sea, crying, and drifting 
across like pieces of mist, like fragments of white cloth. 
They turn their heads and peer as they pass. The sky 
low down glows deep purple. 

The plovers swirl and dart over the ploughed field beyond ; 
their screams are sorrowful and sharp. The purple drifts 
up the pale sky and grows redder. The mist stirs. 

The brass on the harness of the plough-horses jingles 
as they come into the field. The birds rise in scattered 
knots. The mist trembles, grows thinner, rises. The 
red and gold sky shines dully on the ice. 

The men shout across the thawing clods ; the ploughs 
creak ; the horses steam in the cold ; the plovers and 
gulls have gone ; the sparrows twitter. 

The sky is gold and blue, very faint and damp. 

It is day. 



30 

LONDON 
(May, 1915.) 



Glittering leaves 

Dance in a squall ; 

Behind them bleak immoveable clouds. 

A church spire 

Holds up a little brass cock 

To peck at the blue wheat-fields. 

Roofs, conical spires, tapering chimneys, 
Livid with sunlight, lace the horizon. 

A pear-tree, a broken white pyramid 
In a dingy garden, troubles me 
With ecstasy. 

At night, the moon, a pregnant woman, 
Walks cautiously over the slippery heavens. 

And I am tormented, 

Obsessed, 

Among all this beauty. 

With a vision of ruins. 

Of walls crumbling into clay. 



31 



AFTER TWO YEARS 



She is all so slight 
And tender and white 

As a May morning. 
She walks withou hood 
At dusk. It is goc 

To hear her sing. 

It is God's will 

That I shall love her still 

As He loves Mary, 
And night and day 
I will go forth to pray 

That she love me. 

She is as gold 

Lovely, and far more cold. 

Do thou pray with me. 
For if I win grace 
To kiss twice her face 

God has done well to me. 



Printed by Gowans Brothers (S. E. Roberts, Propr.). S* Paternoster Row, E.C. 



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